What Happens When The Internet Outgrows Its Parents?
Don’t let complacency become king
President Barack Obama came to visit Canada just a few weeks ago and I was grateful enough to be able to listen to him speak about the future of our two Nations (Canada & USA) as well as the current and not so distant future trends of the world.
When asked about the digital age that we find ourselves in his responses blew my mind.
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Obama noted that Google, Twitter, and Facebook all have tremendous power as they hold so much data that can be used for good in so many ways.
Think about it — when was the last time you did anything that somehow did not involve Facebook, Google or Twitter at some stage. Crazy, eh?
Or, a larger thought, what if these three companies sold data to a newly formed country who is rapidly trying to establish best practices, societal standards, and economies of scale?
With great data comes great responsibility and with great responsibility comes a great need for ethics, alignment, and trust.
The issue that we currently face though is that the currency of ethics, alignment, and trust was never clearly established among the big digital giants.
- Because in 2007 when this thing called “social media” took off, the internet was as mature as a 5-year-old.
- Because things moved SO fast that we didn’t stop to think about these three big currencies of thought and understanding and how much value they would be down the road when maturity forces us to pay attention.
Now the internet is a teenager. Social media is a pre-teen and world leaders are still trying to be the parent.
That will work.
But what happens on the day when that teenager and their friends decide to do something rebellious? Take the latest “deepfake” of Mark Zuckerberg as an example.
What happens when the teenager tells all their friends their secrets, but not their parents?
Or — even worse, what happens when the teenager grows up and becomes an adult?
Obama seemed to have a sense of urgency in his verbal concern for these currencies and I can only presume that a man of his statue understands the power of big data and big data unchained.
I must admit that I am not in fear of the internet or social media maturing into parenthood. In fact, I can’t wait for it. Can you imagine what Medium will be like as an adult?
My concern is that we are not in a ready position for when the internet decides to not listen to its parents.
We need to pay attention and not become complacent parents.
My only hope is that others in positions of power and authority do the same.